While it is clear to me why time from submission to acceptance can vary a lot (given that this involves that most fickle of creature: the reviewer), it is less clear what determines how long it takes for an accepted paper to be published.

Is this purely a matter of all accepted papers being put in a queue and then the journal selects from the top until they fill out each issue (possible going a bit further down to make the page counts fit)? Or is it common that papers are "pushed" forward in the queue based on various factors (and if so, which factors)?

If it makes a difference, I am mostly interested in math journals, but I am also curious about possible dependency on the field.


2 Answers 2


I'd say your second option, various factors impact the progression of an accepted paper.

Commissioning editors might decide that they commission an edited issue with academics deciding on the selection and groupings of articles, and that will disrupt the 'queue' of all accepted articles you mention.

Otherwise, commissioning editors might notice that some recently-accepted articles fit nicely around a specific theme or share a common characteristic that make publishing them together valuable, regardless of the order they were accepted.

Essentially, publishing is a human process, with the advantages and drawbacks that entails. If publication was only down to space, things might be very different.

  • 2
    Do you have direct experience of editing? I don't, so I could be wrong, but most of the journals I have read have no obvious "theming" of articles in the same issue (except in the case of special issues). Maybe it varies by field. Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 10:25
  • Could be a field difference. Either way, bottom line is: there more to publishing than going through a 'queue' of accepted papers.
    – G-E
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 10:37
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    Some math journals publish their articles online as soon as they're accepted, so you can actually see how they work through their backlog. In every case I've observed, it seems to be "first in, first out."
    – user37208
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 15:20

Just as a real story and completion to the answer of @G-E, I report some examples from Elsevier and Springer.

Recently Elsevier and Springer publishers have provided information about the review process and publication time (Online publication time and paginated ones).

While this information is not completed for all of the journals, but for some of them in a variety of fields are accessible, such as Advances in Mathematics, Applied and Computational Harmonic Analysis (Online Article Publication Time).

In Springer, the information is not as easily accessible as Elsevier but there exist some information about the journal including the review process and publication time, Journal metric Flyer.

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    While I appreciate this information, it does not really address the question. Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 12:02
  • 1
    -1. If there is information in those links that directly addresses the question then you should summarise it in the text. At the moment this does not provide an answer, and it's not even obvious that the links do either. Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 12:47

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